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Mangbetu Figural Zither Guitar African Art

Product #: 114129
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Title Mangbetu Figural Zither Guitar African Art
Type of Object Musical instrument
Country of Origin Democractic Republic of Congo
People Mangbetu
Materials Wood, animal skin, studs, strings
Approximate Age Second half 20th century
Dimensions Height: 24.25 Inches
Width: 2.75 Inches
Overall Condition Poor. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners. Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use. We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings. Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair Missing Stings, cracked and repaired through one entire side, chips, dirt, wear and cracks

Additional Information:

This interesting carved example of a Mangbetu strig instrument is decorated with an elongated figure displaying classic Mangbetu traits.The sound box is covered with animal skin and has four strings. This is a musical instrument that produces a light melodious sound when strummed.

Such a harp called Kundi, is a traditional musical instrument found among the Mangbetu and Azande, the Boa and related peoples in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This well carved figural harp is a rare example of an art seldom seen on the market. It would be a good addition to a collection.

The 40,000 Mangbetu are of Sudanese origin. They moved across the border into NE DRC several hundred years ago and live just south of the Zande and west of the Boa--two groups that also moved into the DRCongo from the Sudan. The Mangbetu are famous mostly for their clay mugs and musical instruments, with statues and other objects being rare. Most of their figural art is distinctive for the elongated heads--which is probably an influence from the ancient Egyptians that filtered south into the Sudan thousands of years ago. Mangbetu art is a royal art, so most objects that exist are elegant, refined, and of great beauty.This harp is a good example of its kind

The Mangbetu sculptures symbolize the ideal of male or female beauty. This beauty is translated by the elongated , wrapped head with an elaborate hairstyle (hoalolike here) and by the geometric patterns and the body painting that are observed on the real individual in their personal appearance. Most of them  portrayed existing people. 

For similar example see: Brincard Marie-Therese, 1989, SOUNDING FORMS. AFRICAN MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, Fig. 8, pp. 89, from Rietberg Museum, Zurich.

For more information see Enid Schildkrout and Curtis A. Keim, AFRICAN REFLECTIONS ART FROM NORTHEASTERN ZAIRE. For similar example see  p. 132